AN old lady looks at multiple sclerosis
Funny how A Pirate Looks at 40 is playing in my brain as I type. Where is that old Jimmy Buffet cd anyway? There was a time when a birthday would be celebrated with margarita in hand and listening to that song as the night started to wind down. It would likely be a free margarita too, bought for me by someone drinking to my special day. Way back, when I had energy and liked to drink, that was the way to spend a birthday.
Except for the dreaded year when the day fell between two weekends and I sought to make the most of it by telling folks on both weekends it was my birthday celebration. I had forgotten that the year before, a local barfly and I discovered our birthdays were on the same day. He remembered though and blew my free drink birthday cover. Damn! Happy belated birthday Steve, wherever you are!
Lots of thoughts were running through my brain this recent birthday and, weirdly, they all had to do with MS. I don’t think it was because of the MS social “Meet and Greet” event my mom, sister and I went to after a lovely lunch. Not the most exciting way to spend a birthday afternoon but hey, I learned a lot and hung out with some awesome people- how can you go wrong?
I also don’t think it was because my younger sister called that evening to ask why I was home. Why wasn’t I out barhopping on my big day and having all kinds of birthday adventures? It is hard to explain to someone in their twenties that the idea of hitting the bar scene is so exhausting that it makes you ecstatic to just crash on your sofa.
It also wasn’t the fact that despite my whinnying to myself about it being my special day and I shouldn’t have to do a shot, I did. I had skipped the night before as I didn’t want to deal with the nasty side effects on my “special day.” And I skipped the night before that, as I was just too tired to bother. The day before that was Sunday, the Lord’s day, and thus best to rest. God does not want you stressed out on HIS special day.
So the shot was long overdue and needed to be done and I did it. To truly celebrate, I could have dipped the shot in birthday cake first, but the cake came during lunch.
It also wasn’t my tendency to spill food on myself that was making me think a lot about MS this year. I didn’t make quite the mess with frosting that my nephew did with his birthday cake, but it was close.
No, what truly made this an MS birthday was what happened after lunch. My sister, who also has multiple sclerosis, pulled out her superduper pack of vitamins. That made me remember that I had a new medication that I needed to take at lunch and so I pulled out my superduper pill case that I got for free, being a frequent flyer at my local pharmacy. No, it was not a days of the week container, not yet. I had to log a few more miles on the pharmacy circuit before I got that upgrade.
Anyway, pulling out pills made my mom curse quietly as she had wanted to bring her own medication but felt that was an old lady thing to do, and, not wanting to be seen as an old lady, had taken the wild step of leaving them home.
That’s when it occurred to me that with my pill container, happiness at a quiet celebration, my aches, my pains, my temperature sensitivity, and my resting ALL the time, MS and this birthday were hedging me towards old lady land.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise. For years before the diagnosis I was calling myself an old lady due to the above, but I was just bluffing. When in the case of a guy who was two years younger than me, and who I told that I was too old to date him, perhaps I was looking for consolation. No you’re not old, you’re lying. You don’t look a day over twenty, who are you kidding?
Ironic then, that after my diagnosis, a doctor did neuro-psych testing on me and compared my brain to the brain of her 87 year old father. “It’s not that you have dementia, your brain has just slowed down. I know with my dad I have to talk to him slower to make sure his brain is grasping everything.”
I wanted to ask if her dad was single but thought better of it.
She came to this conclusion because I kept failing the test where you had to figure out what was missing from a picture. Yes, I caught that the door handle was missing from the door and the shoelace was missing from the running shoe. But the beach picture, I had no idea what was missing from the beach picture. There was sand, and there was water, what else do you need on a beach? A kite, suntan lotion, beer cooler, seals, flip flops, tourists, overpriced beach entry fees, nude sunbathers? What could possibly be missing from the beach picture?
Did I jinx myself by calling myself an old lady before my time? I guess it doesn’t matter. With my MS diagnosis and the doctor’s pronouncement of comparing my brain to an old man’s, it was official. My tendencies may lead to old lady like behavior sometimes. But I actually like my easy to open pill container. And resting is relaxing.
Besides, I stayed up late on my special night watching a funny movie. And, the rebel that I was, I even had a cup of tea while watching the movie risking having to be in the bathroom all night- how many old ladies do you know who would dare to do that?
MS may have changed some things in my world but I am not at old age yet.
By the way, can someone please grab me a sweater? There is a little chill in the room……..
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